"Inch by inch Vinny made it to the ledge. He stood,
swaying slightly, the tips of his toes one small movement from
Far below, Joe-Boy waved his arm back and forth. It was dreamy to see—back and forth, back and forth. He looked so small down there.
For a moment Vinny’s mind went blank as if he were in
some trance, some dream where he could so easily lean out
and fall, and think or feel nothing.
A breeze picked up and moved the trees on the ridge-line,
but not a breath of it reached the fifty-foot ledge.
Vinny thought he heard a voice, small and distant. Yes.
Something inside him, a tiny voice pleading, Don’t do it. Walk away. Just turn and go and walk back down.
“ . . . I can’t,” Vinny whispered.
You can, you can, you can. Walk back down.
Joe-Boy yelled, then Starlene, both of them waving.
Then something very strange happened.
Vinny felt at peace. Completely and totally calm and at peace. He had not made up his mind about jumping. But something else inside him had.
Thoughts and feelings swarmed, stinging him: Jump!
Jump! Jump! Jump!
But deep inside, where the peace was, where his mind wasn’t, he would not jump. He would walk back down.
No! No, no, no!
Vinny eased down and fingered up some mud and made a
cross on his chest, big and bold. He grabbed a leaf, stuck it in his mouth. Be calm, be calm. Don’t look down.
After a long pause, he spits the leaf out and rubbed the cross
to a blur."